An archaeological dig, the first ever community excavation on the Cathedral site, is to take place in a garden in the north-west corner of Peterborough Cathedral Precincts from Wednesday 22nd June until Sunday 3rd July 2016.
The dig is being carried out by Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) and the Cambridge Archaeological Unit (University of Cambridge), with Peterborough Cathedral Archaeologist, Dr Jackie Hall.
The team will be working with around 150 volunteers from the local community, as well as with pupils from schools in Peterborough. The volunteers, who signed up in response to an appeal earlier this year, will assist with excavating and metal detecting as well as sieving, recording and washing finds.
On most days during the dig, at 3.00pm, the archaeologists will pause to tell visitors how the dig is progressing and discuss any finds. All are welcome to attend these free 30 minute talks on site.
On three evenings during the dig, at 7.00pm, there will be the opportunity to hear more from leading archaeologists. Dr Jackie Hall will talk about the archaeology of the Cathedral Precincts (21st June) and Alison Dickens will talk about Anglo-Saxon beds and gold (30th June), whilst Mark Knight will talk about the Bronze Age discoveries at Must Farm near Whittlesey, which has become known as “The Pompeii of the Fens” (24th June). Tickets for each talk are £5 per person (£3 concessions), available via the Peterborough Cathedral online shop or on the door.
It is expected that six trenches, each around 2 metres wide and 10 metres long, will be dug in an area shown by a recent ground penetrating radar (gps) survey to indicate some intriguing features of interest.
“It is possible that we may find the wall built around 1000 AD to enclose the monastery, perhaps as a precaution against Viking raiders,” said Dr Jackie Hall. “It was at this time that the name of the abbey and town changed from Medeshamstede to Burh. For a brief time, because of its wealth, it was known as the Golden Burh, and later as St Peter’s Burh, or Peterborough, as it is today. To find the wall that’s responsible for the name of the City would be very exciting!”
It is also known from historical records that for hundreds of years there was a large fish pond on the site and archaeologists expect to find evidence of this too.
Head of ACA, Alison Dickens said: “This is a great project as it reaches out to people and gets them involved, hands-on, with the history and heritage of the place where they live – we are looking forward to working with the Cathedral, community and schools and hope for some great results."
This project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and is part of the Peterborough 900 Campaign, which is improving facilities and increasing access to the Cathedral leading up to its 900th anniversary in 2018.
For more information see our Get Digging webpage and follow our Get Digging blog during the project.